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Wild turkeys pestering Cal Poly students during breeding season

Posted at 7:11 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 22:38:20-04

Turkey breeding season is underway and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning people that the animals could become aggressive during this time.

Wild turkeys occupy about 18% of the state.

Turkeys have been seen in multiple regions across the Central Coast, including in the heart of Cal Poly’s campus.

“I'm on the first floor right outside the window. I will look out and they're just staring at me,” said Cal Poly freshman Wyatt Lalonde.

“For some people, they'll just be in a rush to their 7 or 8 a.m. classes and it's just a bunch of turkeys all mad,” said another freshman, Juliana Ornelas-Perez.

“We have screens in our building and a slide show that says to stay safe from turkeys,” said freshman Emily Joyce.

“I hear them gobbling around every morning and I'm just scared to go outside,” said another freshman, Aidan Giable.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife brought the current species of wild turkeys in from Texas in the 1970s for hunting.

The department advises people who come in contact with turkeys to open an umbrella, if they have one, to steer them away.

Many Cal Poly students say they have had personal encounters with turkeys.

“I had one guy trying to get into the dorm and the turkeys got in front of him,” said freshman Lars Holien. “They pushed them backward, it was really funny actually.”

“I ran past a group of them and I kind of just looked at them and then made eye contact and they chased me for about five minutes,” said Greta Burk, also a freshman on campus.

“I was a victim, and it was traumatizing, really,” said freshman Oliver Lane. “I think everyone deep down is scared of turkeys, especially when there's a whole gang of them.”

“I was actually in my truck one time and watched a guy get chased down the road on his bike,” said freshman Aidan Corley. “He had to get off of his bike and run.”

“I took a little video of it and right as I turned off the video, they started getting really mad at me and started flapping their wings and slapping me,” said freshman Max Eatchel. “I started to take off running and they came chasing me.”

Other Cal Poly students say the presence of the turkeys is welcome on campus.

“I just decided to sit down near them, they came over, and I just sat with them for a while,” said freshman Isaac Rudnick. “They didn't attack me.”

“It's just cool to see wildlife here on the campus, just walking around,” said Jaskaran Dhillon, who is also a freshman on campus.

“My dream is to be chased by a turkey one day,” said freshman Allie Sweeney. “We've seen videos, people getting chased. They chase people on bikes.”

A Cal Poly spokesperson tells KSBY it’s not uncommon for the university to get reports of turkeys chasing students.

Cal Poly officers generally scare away any birds that are causing problems.

It is recommended that people do not run from the birds since turkeys will typically give chase.